Who: St. Louis Blues vs. Buffalo Sabres
Where: First Niagra Center in Buffalo, N.Y.
When: 6 p.m. CT
TV: Fox Sports Midwest
Radio: KMOX 1120
The Blues arrived in Buffalo, N.Y., a battered bunch Monday morning.
They landed in Empire State still absorbing the aftereffects of a rough 4-1 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals Sunday evening, only their third regulation loss of the season. To add insult to injury, a flu bug made several players its victim, including Chris Stewart, who sat out of Tuesday’s morning skate.
Unfortunately, the Blues busy November schedule doesn’t allow them a break to get healthy. Instead, they will have to get well on the ice when they face-off against the Buffalo Sabres Tuesday night.
The Sabres have been left at the starting gates over a quarter of the way into the 2013-14 season. They are off to their worst start in franchise history and have a league-worst 11 points in 22 games. Their horrific start lead to the firing of Head Coach Ron Rolston and General Manager Darcy Regier on Wednesday. In their stead, Ted Nolan and Pat LaFontaine were hired as interim head coach and president of hockey operations, respectively.
Both have ties to the organization.
Nolan is in his second stint behind Buffalo’s bench. He coached the Sabres from 1995-97 and was given the Jack Adams Award for the 1996-97 season after guiding Buffalo to a first-place finish in the old Northeast Division.
LaFontaine, a St. Louis native, played parts of six seasons with Buffalo, scoring a career-high 148 points (53 G, 95 A) in 1992-93.
In two games under new management, the Sabres have shown signs of life. In Nolan’s home debut Friday, they won the opening leg of a home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs before falling short in a third period comeback effort in Toronto on Saturday. Additionally, the Sabres have won their last two at home.
With several Blues ill, and Buffalo rejuvenated with a fresh start, Tuesday’s contest may be closer than expected.
St. Louis will need a bounce back effort from Jaroslav Halak, who has hit a rough patch after a solid start to the season. He was pulled in the first period of Sunday’s matchup against the Capitals after allowing three goals on only six shots.
Interestingly enough, Halak’s counterpart on Tuesday night, Ryan Miller, was the subject of trade rumors involving the Blues over the summer. In fact, there was some discussion that Halak and Miller would both be the respective centerpieces in a deal between the two teams.
Miller has been one of the few bright spots for the Sabres this season, posting an impressive .919 save percentage. The East Lansing, Mich., native has accomplished this while facing the third most shots (568) in the league.
While the trade rumors never came to fruition, it will still be interesting to watch Halak and Miller do battle, especially with Halak’s recent struggles.
Paajarvi will be playing in his second game since suffering an upper-body injury on Oct. 26th against the Nashville Predators. The Swedish winger has yet to register a point in five games played with the Blues.
Finally, while Stewart is expected to play through his illness, Adam Cracknell will be ready to step in as his replacement if need be.
TONIGHT’S PROJECTED LINEUPS: